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Naish Helix

Feb 5, 2009

Author: Shane Thompson

Size Tested: 9 m2, 12 m2 / Style: Four-line SLE / Wind range: 14-28, 10-22 knots / What’s new: Direct Response Steering, Geo-Tech-generated C shape, reduced number of struts, lower aspect ratio, low-drag wingtips, re-engineered bridles

The kite that spawned the revolutionary Sigma series last season takes charge in 2009 as a totally redesigned kite. This year’s Helix offers faster turning, superior glide, great upwind ability, easier relaunch and a more direct bar feel with a fifth-line-friendly option. With a lower aspect ratio and gruntier back-in-window feel than its Cult counterpart, the Helix has many Naish Torch freestyle riders taking another look at the Sigma shape.

Bar setup and safety systems
The bar pulleys of last season have followed the industry trend of extinction on Naish’s new four-line SLE control system, which is used with both the Cult and the Helix models this year. Impressive new features include a new front-line attachment system with anti-twist line swivel. Also, rather than relying on the depower capability of both front lines, the leash is connected through a mini fifth-line leash to a single front line, ensuring complete single-line flagging. New bar ends have bar-size adjustment capability, a great feature for multiple-sized kites used with a single bar.

Key kite features
Naish’s attention to detail is always evident. Its industry-exclusive features include the Octopus inflation, an internal single-point inflation system, the Delta-cut two-ply trailing edge and internal Aramid leading-edge seam reinforcements. The easily identified Sigma shape has advanced for 2009 with new low-drag wingtips, Direct Response Steering and the Geo-Tech C shape that alters the kite’s stability and turning style.

On-water performance

The Helix is a completely different kite this year, with performance that appeals to what most advanced riders are looking for in an SLE kite. Whether it’s the lower aspect shape, fewer struts or the steering design features that were added, this year’s Helix feels much more like a C kite.
    The testers were impressed by the smooth pull, quick and reactive steering, and excellent depower as well as the solid unhooked performance. Although it takes longer to find the sweet spot to boost some big air than its Cult counterpart, when you hit it right this kite has excellent lift and glide. The feedback you get from the Helix is the perfect balance between too much and not enough. Water relaunch has also been improved, with a simple steering-line pull that provides faster results.
    Like the Cult, the Helix pulls fast and smooth, and it’s quick to react to steering input at all levels of depower. Its fast pulling speed and good upwind capability make it a good kite for the racing crowd.

Reality check

This Helix may depower slightly less than last year’s model; however, the added stability, quicker turn reactivity and direct bar feel more than make up for it. If you need more instant depower, there’s always the Cult.

Bottom line
The Helix was a test favourite in both sound and ocean sessions for its great all-terrain performance, wind range and smooth unhooked capability, which was absent from last year’s Sigma. It more than satisfies the demands of the dedicated C-kite freestyle rider who has held out from using SLE’s in the past.



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